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The number of confirmed Covid-19 casualties has topped 5m, a number multiple observers say is likely a significant underestimate of the pandemic’s true death toll.

According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins university accessed early on Monday, at least 5,000,425 individuals have died with coronavirus since records began.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic in March 2020 and has said it considers the official death toll to be at least 60 per cent greater than what is reported officially. The highly infectious Delta variant, which began to spread globally earlier this year, has kept cases and deaths high throughout the year.

Successful vaccination campaigns in the west have helped keep deaths and hospitalisation low even in the face of rising case numbers. 

But the vaccine gap between richer and poorer nations continues to be significant, with less than 4 per cent of the population in low-income countries having received at least one shot, according to Our World in Data.

For high-income countries, the corresponding proportion is about three quarters. Covid hotspots, such as Russia and Romania and other countries in eastern Europe, have experienced a recent surge in deaths per capita, according to data compiled by the Financial Times.

To achieve vaccination rates of 70 per cent of the population in every country in the world by the middle of next year, the WHO has called for a moratorium on booster shots until the end of 2021.

The WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said last week that the number of boosters administered globally each day, about 1m shots, was 3 times the amount of vaccines given per day in low-income nations, or about 330,000. 



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